Mertesacker hopes for upbeat Arsenal weekend
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is hoping for a happy ending to a troublesome week when QPR visit the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
A dispiriting few days for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger began with a 1-0 defeat at struggling Norwich last weekend that left his side 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Then on Wednesday the Gunners were beaten 2-0 at home by Schalke in the Champions League, with Wenger watching helplessly from the stands as he served out a European touchline ban.
The following day saw Wenger take the stage at the club’s annual meeting and suffer criticism from supporters who are upset that a club that sold star forward Robin van Persie in pre-season and hasn’t won a trophy since 2005 nevertheless charges the highest ticket prices in England and refuses to spend big transfer fees on star signings.
QPR would appear to be the ideal opponents for a quick change of fortunes as they are currently rock bottom of the table and have yet to record a league victory this season.
Yet, as Germany centre-back Mertesacker admitted, that had also been the case for Norwich until they broke their duck with last week’s win over the Gunners.
“We have great players with great potential but at the moment you cannot feel we are a strong squad,” Mertesacker said. “We have to learn quickly from what happened in the last two matches.
“If we do not find these solutions, it is going to be difficult both in the Premier League and in the Champions League as well.
“The international break was a bit of a killer for us and we have to find our strength again quickly.
“We have the potential in us but first we have to fight. We are playing QPR on Saturday but it will be the same as at Norwich.
“They were at the bottom of the table as well and we did not find solutions against a defensive side.
“We’ve had a difficult week and our results were kind of an accident, so now we have to find our game again.
“We have to be positive ahead of the QPR match. Sometimes you need one game to find your qualities again, so let’s make sure it’s Saturday.”
Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta agrees with Mertesacker’s assessment of the situation.
“The way we are giving the points away is not good enough,” he said. “We are controlling most of the games but then make mistakes which are costing us points and we cannot allow that to happen.
“When we face teams such as QPR and Norwich, they make it hard for us but we have to bounce back.
“We have only two days now to put the Schalke defeat behind us and hopefully we can get a win on Saturday.”
QPR could claim they have exactly the same problem as their hosts as manager Mark Hughes has spent heavily on assembling a squad of experienced campaigners who have yet to come close to gelling as a unit.
However, one recent recruit, the former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero is confident QPR will soon start to move up the table.
“When we win that first game everything will fall into place for us,” he said. “Saturday presents us with another opportunity. We don’t feel as though we are too far away.
“We want the first three points of the season, so we’ll work hard and, hopefully, cause them problems.”
Granero conceded that a wounded Arsenal might not be the ideal opponents this weekend however.
“Arsenal are a great team with very high-class, quality players,” he said. “They are one of the best teams in the league.
“They wouldn’t have expected to lose to Norwich last weekend, so they will want to respond. Arsenal won’t want to lose two league games in a row.”